We all know, I'm sure, the effects of sleep deprivation, the damage a lack of sleep can do to the body, both mental and physical.
When it comes to sleep deprivation, parents, and in particular, mothers, are high on the list. Babies sleep - well, like babies. The problem is, babies and toddlers may not be on the same sleep schedule as adults.
But the sleep deprivation begins months before baby comes into the world. During the first trimester of pregnancy, several factors can disturb your sleep. Even though baby (and you) are still small, it's sometimes difficult to find the right position for a comfortable sleep. Your breasts feel full and tender and - well - you can't decide just what to do with them!
Stomach upsets are also frequent sleep disturbers. Heartburn and gas, the occasional wave of nausea - or is it hunger? These can also keep you awake. One of the worst offenders is the constant need to run to the bathroom. Eventually all these things can lead to a feeling of exhaustion.
On into the second trimester, and a brief respite from many of the disturbances. Your tummy settles down to the knowledge that you are pregnant and all the heartburn in the world won't change that. You've discovered a comfortable position in which to sleep that is easy on swollen breasts, and, although there may still be a nighttime trip or two to the bathroom, these jaunts are not nearly as frequent as they were during the first trimester.
Enjoy your sleep while you can, because with the arrival of the third trimester, all the problems are back with a vengeance. Because of the size of your belly, there's no way to get comfortable. Baby seems to be lying right on your bladder, too, so you beat a frequent path to the bathroom.
Stomach upsets have returned. Your legs cramp. When you do drift off to sleep, baby decides he doesn't care for his/her position and turns over with a tummy-shaking flop. Or baby decides to do a few leg exercises and kicks you soundly in the ribs.
Even when you are sleeping, it's not a deep sleep. Vivid dreams or nightmares may keep you on the verge of awakening.
There are several things you can try that may make sleep a bit more comfortable.
- Nice soft pillows to support your belly or to comfort your back, or just to snuggle with.
- Have a snack before going to bed, but avoid anything spicy or gassy. Warm milk and crackers or digestive cookies will stave off those going-to-sleep hunger pangs.
- Try some relaxation techniques or listen to relaxing music. Meditation is also beneficial.
- Yoga and deep breathing are great sleep aids. Keep the yoga simple with slow easy stretches. No need for anything strenuous.
- Many herbal teas are relaxing and good for your digestion.
- If you can talk hubby or some other family member or a friend into it, a massage with warm, sweet smelling oil induces relaxation and sleep.
Try to avoid over-the-counter or prescription remedies to help you sleep unless you talk to your doctor before taking them. some of these may be harmful to baby.
Published On: August 25, 2008